Salvia Divinorum, also known as seer’s sage, is a psychoactive herb in the sage family that is native to southern Mexico and parts of South America. The plant gained popularity for its ability to produce brief but intense hallucinogenic effects. The active ingredient in Salvia Divinorum, salvinorin A, is an extremely potent psychoactive that cause altered states of consciousness when smoked. A 2008 study in the journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence entitled College Student Use of Salvia Divinorum polled 1,571 students and found that 4.4 percent of the students reported using salvia at least once within the past 12 months. According to the study, “Subpopulations that are typically most at risk for drug use within college students (Whites, males, fraternity members, heavy episodic drinkers) also were most likely to use salvia.” Over ten percent of students who used illicit drugs reported using salvia. The trend is surprising because salvia is rarely ever reported to produce euphoric effects. In fact, most users report that the effects of salvia are highly uncomfortable and characterized by terrifying hallucinations. According to Medical News Today, “Some of these hallucinations and sensations are considered dream-like, where one may not be able to tell the difference between things that are really there or not.” Effects of using salvia include a loss of contact with reality; distortions of time and space; feelings of being “pulled, twisted, stretched, or flipped,” and overall feelings of anxiety and uneasiness. Salvia affects people differently and often depends on one’s body chemistry and body weight. When combined with other drugs or alcohol, the effects can be much more severe. The initial effect, although brief, causes such extreme dissociation that a user could inadvertently hurt themselves. Julie Boehlke, in a 2017 Livestrong article entitled Dangers of Smoking Salvia, explains, “One of the most fearful side effects occurs as the drug begins to slowly wear off—where the user may thrash or appear to have seizure like symptoms in which they may run into walls or injure themselves with no feeling of pain whatsoever.” Salvia is also capable of causing panic attacks, schizophrenia relapses, suicidal thoughts, depression, anger, and uncontrollable crying.
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